EV Chargers in CRE: Cost and Installation

October 17, 2022 | By: Scott Baker, PE

There were only 506 public EV chargers nationwide in 2010. The number of EV chargers has grown substantially to over 100,000 chargers in 2022. With the growth in electric vehicles, the need to provide charging infrastructure has risen considerably.

Cost and Installation of Charging Stations

Some of the hurdles to installing charging stations are the high cost of installation, the maintenance of the stations, and the potential increased energy cost. After moving forward with installation of charging stations on the property, the next decision is whether the property team or a third-party company should own and maintain these charging stations. If you’re tracking energy consumption through ENERGY STAR benchmarking or ESG reporting, another cost to consider is adding a submeter to this system.

This energy can be subtracted from the ENERGY STAR profile or be included as scope 3 emissions to help reflect the breakdown of emissions to better represent the property’s energy profile. One metro-Atlanta engineer had the electric service for a group of new charging stations fed separately from the main building power, lowering the building’s peak demand. This decision kept the billing rates lower for the building, saving on energy costs while ensuring future capacity for EV charger growth.

Based on a few recent installations in the metro Atlanta area, the infrastructure cost can range from $6,000 to $10,000 per station. The installation time can vary based on infrastructure requirements but can be from two days to one week depending on complexity of install and number of stations. The cost of charging stations themselves can vary between $4,000 and $10,000 per station and typically take only a few days to install. Everyone interviewed for this article said the installation process proceeded without issue.

Numerous local utility providers offer rebate programs for the installation of EV chargers, such as Georgia Power’s Make Ready program. This program covers the cost of EV charging infrastructure for passenger vehicles, transit buses, various delivery trucks, airport ground support equipment, and forklifts. Through the Make Ready program, Georgia Power supplies the conduit, wiring, and associated infrastructure for both the utility and customer side of an EV charger.

This program does not cover the cost of the charger itself; however, the installation of EV charging infrastructure and its associated costs are normally higher than the cost of an EV charger. Old construction benefits greatly from this, as installing infrastructure for EV chargers can be prohibitively expensive for commercial properties.

Charger Pricing

There are several options for the consumer pricing structure of EV charger stations. The best option from the end-user’s perspective is to have free charging available at commercial office buildings. This reduces their operational cost for their vehicle but comes at the expense of property owners. Some tenant companies may choose to pay for their own meters and provide that as an amenity to their employees. Many property owners choose to install them and let a third-party metering company bear part of the installation cost and handle the consumer charging costs. This helps the property owner step away from the maintenance of the system and the individual transactions that come with paid charging stations.

This consumer-paid approach may cause frustration among users as pricing structures can be unclear. Make sure you understand local laws regarding the sale of electricity and how EV charging is affected by them. For example, EV charging stations in the state of Georgia charge customers according to charging time rather than energy used as properties cannot directly sell the electricity used at EV charging stations.

Building Occupancy Type

The need for EV charging stations varies greatly based on the building occupancy type. Understanding the consumer’s needs can help in the decision process for whether to add EV charging infrastructure and how many stations.

“It always begins with identifying your objectives, and scope,” explains Glenn Kurtz, vice president of Strategic Initiatives with Legacy Parking. “What is the purpose of the install? Is there demand [from tenants]? Is this for sustainability goals or LEED certification? Do you need level 1, 2, or 3 chargers? Do you have sufficient infrastructure and power for these chargers? These can be costly questions, but they are integral in defining and budgeting for a project like this.”

For residential occupancy, EV charging becomes a necessity as EV adoption continues to grow. For most EV owners, charging at home becomes a huge convenience so that time “filling up” does not add to people’s daily schedules. For anyone in multi-family or hospitality industries, addressing this need will be integral with the rapidly increasing demand for EV support. For these buildings, the availability of charging stations may become a factor in consumer’s decision process for picking apartments or hotels. Faced with the need to charge their car and the desire to remove any hassle from the equation, consumers will make decisions with this convenience in mind.

For retail, the length of time an occupant is in the space is far lower than residential or office, so those stations are typically an amenity for short-term charging to “top off the tank.” For these buildings, consumers will review the cost and convenience of charging stations to decide whether to use them. If the spaces are more convenient and charging is free, the utilization of these spaces will increase dramatically. The relatively low cost of electricity may push retail owners to provide this as an amenity to entice customers to spend more time in their space and assume additional sales will outweigh the cost.

For office buildings, there is an opportunity for EV owners to have extended time to charge their vehicles. Many office workers have their vehicle parked up to 8 hours a day in a property’s lot, and this gives a lengthy and convenient charging opportunity. If these properties choose to provide free charging, most tenants would be able to cover all of their charging needs while at work. In order to free up use of these stations, property owners could limit the time a user can charge for free, to ensure that more tenants may utilize this amenity while minimizing costs from additional station installations. Even a metered charger would be a convenient solution whose costs could be passed on to tenants instead of the end-user.

Installing Chargers

There are numerous benefits to installing EV chargers. There is the potential increase in leasing opportunities, a possible uptick in tenant satisfaction due to additional amenities, and ESG benefits for owner and tenant ESG reporting. With 78 different electric vehicle models in 2022 alone, EV adoption is rapidly growing, and an early adoption and implementation of charging infrastructure could put your property ahead of competition.


To stay up to date on news and resources such as this and other topics of importance to the real estate industry, subscribe to the free CRE Insight Journal Newsletter using this link.